Federal Way began forming in the late 1860s around the logging industry, was home to an Indian boarding school and later had one of the area’s first shopping centers.
Those and other historic features of what is now the state’s eighth-largest city have been overshadowed by growth and development in recent decades.
But the Historical Society of Federal Way hopes the roots of the area will become better known with this week’s release of the first history book about Federal Way.
Marie Sciacqua didn’t know where to learn about Federal Way after she moved to the area in 1976. Now, she said, “people will be able to read about it.”
Sciacqua, the group’s vice president, coordinated the book after scouring historical society materials for six months. She hopes the book, “Federal Way,” will increase community pride by “knowing where we came from.”
The 127-page book will be unveiled Saturday as part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing.
Three Federal Way-area residents – Dick Caster, Ann Hagen and Diana Noble-Gulliford – wrote the book produced by the historical society. The paperback, with a retail price of $21.99, includes more than 200 pictures.
Those images feature many buildings that were torn down over time. As a result, Federal Way has few historic buildings.
“There’s a few old houses, but the commercial buildings are almost all gone,” Caster said.
The city’s oldest structure is the cabin of homesteader John Barker, built in 1883. The cabin, restored by the historical society and open for tours, is at the entrance to West Hylebos Wetlands Park.
Partly because it lacked good farm land, Federal Way didn’t develop like other nearby communities such as Kent and Auburn, Caster said.
“We never were really a centralized community,” said Caster, who’s lived in Federal Way since 1978.
The city, now with a population of 88,040, didn’t incorporate until 1990.
The book covers the boundaries of the Federal Way School District, which are larger than the city’s. That larger area is the focus of materials the historical society has gathered over the past 20 years .
The Federal Way School, built in 1929 and now part of Federal Way High School, is another historic structure. The school – and the city – took their name from the nearby federally funded highway, part of what is now Pacific Highway South.
Caster wants people to know Federal Way has a history that should be preserved.
That history includes the area’s logging roots and an American Indian school. The Rev. Peter Hylebos founded St. George’s Indian School for Muckleshoot Indian children, which operated from 1888 to 1936.
Long before the mall now called The Commons, Federal Way also featured one of the area’s first shopping malls.
Developer Jack Cissna opened his center called Federal Shopping Way in 1955, northwest of South 320th Street and Pacific Highway South. He expanded it by adding the SantaFair amusement park, with roller-skating and circus acts, along with several historic cabins.
“He was trying to put a little bit of everything there to draw the people,” Caster said.
In the 1960s, the complex went out of business. The buildings no longer exist, like so much else in the city’s past.
But with the publishing of “Federal Way,” that past is preserved for others to know.
Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647
WHAT: Book signing for “Images of America – Federal Way” by the Historical Society of Federal Way
WHEN: 1-4 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Senior Lounge, Federal Way Community Center, 876 S. 333rd St.
WHAT TO KNOW: Copies of the book will be on sale for $23, including tax.
MORE INFO: www.federalwayhistory.org or 253-945-7842. Copies also can be ordered from online bookstores or from the publisher at www.arcadiapublishing.com or 1-888-313-2665
The book project was funded in part by grants from the city, 4Culture in King County, and Walmart.